Landseer E.C.T.

A friend

for

life

 

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Old Stories

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A friend in deed

“The Distinguished Member”

 

The original Distinguished Member of the Humane Society was a stray dog called Bob. Traditionally, the dog had twice been ship-wrecked with his owner. On the first occasion, he brought his master safely to shore, after a two mile swim from the ship-wreck. After the second sinking, he failed to rescue his owner and made way to land on his own.

Bob arrived in London and made his home in dockland. There, he gained a reputation for life-saving and the Humane Society decided to adopt him and award him their gold medal. He was officially credited with twenty-three rescues in his fourteen years of service with the society, but there may well have been others which were not recorded. Bob reached a good age for a Newfoundland, since he must have been at least fifteen at the time of death.

Although Landseer painted “A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society” to commemorate the bravery of this dog, the model for the picture was a white-and-black Newfoundland called Paul Pry and belonging to Landseer’s cousin Mrs Smith. It seems that the artist encountered the dog one day, carrying a basket of flowers in his mouth, and was so attracted to the animal that he decided to use him for the painting. Although a very gentle nature and a patient model, the story was told he had another side to his character. A bargee, taunting the dog by prodding him with an oar, as he walked along the canal side, found the weapon seized and himself jerked into the water. The dog, magnanimously, then hauled the man out. The painting became one of Landseer’s most popular works and was reproduced in many different forms.

A Life Saver

 

Scene, the Thames Bank. The 15th of June in the afternoon, one saw what one often saw along the Thames Bank; a crowd of children climbing op on the river’s surrounding embankment. It happened quite often that one or more fell down in to the river but were quickly fished out again ~ which could have happened this day, if our “lifesaver” had not been at hand. Suddenly, one saw that a young girl had been blown a long way into the river by a strong wind. It was not easy to help at that spot the and child would most certainly have drowned. There were cries of help from the crowd. Then one could see a gentleman with a Newfoundland Dog. He suddenly loosed the dog’s collar, lifted him up and threw him far into the river. The clever dog realised the danger to the child ~ he grabbed a piece of her clothing ~ lifting her head above the water to prevent her from drowning. The dog’s owner gave a signal to indicate where the nearest steps were. The dog understood and swam towards

him ~ so she was eventually rescued. The owner of this courageous dog refused to give his name but said the dog was called “Ready” ~ a name he really lived up to.
                                                                                                                 
Originally published in Copenhagen, 1875

A Dog from Newcastle

 

During a severe storm, in the winter of 1798, a ship, belonging to Newcastle, was lost near Yarmouth; and a Newfoundland Dog alone escaped to shoe, bringing in his mouth the captain’s pocket-book. He landed amidst a number of people, several of whom in vain endeavoured to take it from him. The sagacious animal, as if sensible of the importance of the charge, which in all probability was delivered to him by his perishing master, at legth leapt fawningly against the breast of a man, who had attracted his notice among the crowd, and delivered the book to him. The dog immediately returned to the place where he had landed, and watched with great attention for everything that came from the wrecked vessel, seizing them, and endeavouring to bring them to land.

 

Taken from “A General History of Quadrupeds” by Thomas Bewick